Three Years in the Life and Death of Land

by Haresh Sharma
The Necessary Stage
Singtel Waterfront Theatre, Singapore

The Studios turns 20 this year and is exploring the theme of land in its programming over the next three years. One of the highlights of the current season is a revival of this 1994 play by The Necessary Stage, written and directed by Haresh Sharma and presented at the new Singtel Waterfront Theatre. 

Three Years in the Life and Death of Land revolves around two families living in a high-rise condo - the Lims and the Mulchands - each of these individuals negotiating their complex and contradictory sense of space. Throw in a sassy cat, restless ghost and mosquito with an existential crisis and we have a curious hybrid between TNS's genre-bending experimental shows and more naturalistic offerings. A big, bold mix between high comedy and high drama.

Attempts have been made to modernise the script but this unfortunately did not work for me and the whole thing comes across as rather twee. This is not least due to the inclusion of several song and dance sequences that cause the narrative to drag. Do we need to be reminded that Eric is coming home by a parade of sashaying flight attendants or have an entire chorus gazing earnestly at the moon? Probably not. 

Where Three Years ultimately shines is in its quieter moments about the clashes between old and young in their relationship with land. The property developer constantly seeking to build something taller and bigger to make his mark on the world. The interracial couple trying to start a life away from their interfering families. The old lady reluctant to move from her marital home saturated with memories of her late husband. It's an apt play to stage around National Day where reruns of songs like Home and Where I Belong no doubt make these issues about land and identity particularly poignant.

It's a light-hearted, entertaining show all round with an impressive multi-tiered set and strong cast featuring standout turns by Daisy Irani, Joshua Lim and Siti Khalijah. Yet I rather wished it had been more streamlined instead of this chaotic, Under One Roof-esque setup that struggled to make me connect with the characters.

The Crystalwords score: 2.5/5


Popular Posts